I first heard of Michael Brown’s death not on the news, Facebook, or any other social media outlet, but in aisle 2 of what was then Ferguson’s Shop N Save. I was wheeling my cart down the aisle when I encountered a very agitated African-American woman who was telling another lady about someone who had been shot in the back 9 times by the police. (This is not about the accuracy of the lady’s account or the now disproven, “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” scenario … bear with me.)
There was nothing I really needed in aisle 2, so I just backtracked and went down aisle 3. Of course by that time the agitated lady had circled around into aisle 3 and was still waxing on. After a few moments, she saw me, realized she was blocking the aisle, flashed me a smile said, “Sorry, ” and moved her cart over.
It was an epiphany for me.
By any normal standard … our dress, the contents of our shopping carts, our age, we were not on the same socio-economic strata, we were just two souls looking to buy some groceries. As a beyond mid-aged white male, I understood that I was not the focus of her frustration and anger, it went beyond that and beyond what I could truly grasp.
It went downhill from there.
“Ferguson” became clickbait. It was my first exposure to the lack of accuracy (or caring) by the media. I remember in particular, an article posted by some financial blog (who I won’t mention) whose 15 minutes of fame was claiming that a big part of Ferguson’s problems was the lack of banking facilities, even though there were several within walking distance of my house (I’m not making this up).
The picture at the top of this post is a prime example, a group of NYC students who found the means to fly into Ferguson for a night, tell us of our shortcomings, then fly home the next day to their privileged communities.
What does all this have to do with tomorrow’s election and my faith in America.
It’s simple, if I take an inventory of the people I know and come in contact with, in Ferguson or now in Imperial Missouri, they may not be in sync with me politically, they may not share my tastes in music or food, they may even like Cheese Whiz, but they want good things for their families, they want safety and security, they want fairness and justice and a better tomorrow. They do not want to riot or loot, and this gives me hope.
One last editorial comment … my biggest disappointment has been with the media, who now doesn’t even pretend to be unbiased (on either side). RIP Walter Cronkite.